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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/23

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/23

NY: New York City is now epicenter of the pandemic

nytimes.com

Three weeks after its first coronavirus infection was discovered, the New York City region reached an alarming milestone: It now accounts for roughly 5% of the world’s cases, making it an epicenter of the global pandemic and increasing pressure on officials to take more drastic measures.

NJ: New Jersey governor to crack down on people violating lockdown

nj.com

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s “really damned unhappy” to hear stories about New Jersey residents not abiding by his stay-at-home order and warned residents to expect a law enforcement crackdown.

WA: Trump approves Washington emergency declaration, says he would activate National Guard

seattletimes.com

President Donald Trump issued a “major disaster” declaration for Washington state over the novel coronavirus crisis, freeing up some federal assistance — but Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, countered that the president’s announcement was not enough to bolster the state’s fight against the pandemic.

dispatch.com

Ohio’s pharmacy board, in an emergency meeting, barred pharmacists from dispensing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 unless a person has tested positive for the virus or is otherwise approved by the pharmacy board’s executive director.

NY: New York governor asks feds to set up mobile hospitals

timesunion.com

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to "immediately proceed" to erect mobile hospitals at two Long Island state universities and at convention center sites in Westchester County and Manhattan.

KS: Some Kansas lawmakers to rethink governor’s power

ljworld.com

Some Kansas legislators say they didn’t understand how much power the governor has in emergencies until Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly closed K-12 schools for the rest of the semester and ordered a six-week halt to new evictions and mortgage foreclosures.

OK: Oklahoma governor: 'Not government's job' to restrict local businesses

tulsaworld.com

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said he has no plans to tell local Oklahoma governments to put restrictions on businesses. “I don’t think that is the government’s job,” Stitt said.

MN: Minnesota's backlog of tests is eliminated with Mayo's help

startribune.com

Eliminating the backlog should enable the health department to get back to patients with results faster, the Minnesota Health Department said, with the priority on notifying those who test positive.

ME: With restaurants shuttered, Maine fishermen and farmers pivot to sell directly to customers

bangordailynews.com

Maine fishermen are processing payments online and setting up pick-up stations for customers at farmer’s markets and in parking lots.

TX: Texas governor resists statewide shelter-in-place, expands hospital capacity

texastribune.org

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott moved to expand hospital staffing and capacity in Texas but declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order. However, he invited local officials to take more restrictive action, and Dallas County quickly issued a stay-at-home order.

CA: California governor presses companies to manufacture critical equipment

sacbee.com

Gap and other clothing manufacturers already have stepped up to help manufacture masks and other protective gear for medical workers, said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. 

VA: Virginia governor says states could be in turmoil for months

richmond.com

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam warned Virginians that the turmoil will stretch out for several months. Northam pleaded with Virginians to stay inside. “Social distancing does not mean congregating on a crowded beach,” he admonished. 

NC: North Carolina faith groups hold virtual services

newsobserver.com

Most North Carolina churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are conducting virtual services. One rabbi conducted remote Torah lessons from his front porch.

FL: Florida to use hotels, convention centers for isolation

tallahassee.com

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said vacant medical facilities could also be used for isolation as the number of state cases increases. The state has 18,000 vacant hospital beds and 5,600 intensive care units available.

SC: South Carolina officials OK expired medical devices

thestate.com

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the state National Guard began to distribute tens of thousands of hospital gowns, protective masks, face shields and gloves from a national medical stockpile. Some of the equipment was out of date, but the health department cleared it for use.

IN: Indiana governor moves primary to June 2

indystar.com

Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order to move the primary election from May 5 to June 2 and will take steps to ensure that all Hoosiers have the option to vote by mail.

NH: As normal life slows to a halt, New Hampshire liquor stores keep the sprits flowing

nhpr.org

New Hampshire schools are closed. Restaurants and bars have been banned from serving customers on-site. Even the state-owned ski area has gone dark. But one aspect of life goes on as usual: state liquor outlets.

AR: Arkansans overload unemployment system

kait8.com

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the last several days 8,000 to 10,000 Arkansans have filed for unemployment. He said there might be even more if the system was working properly.

RI: Rhode Island governor closes barbershops, salons

providencejournal.com

Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced greater restrictions for some types of businesses and signaled the potential for blocking some people from entering the Ocean State. She said there will be spot-checks to enforce the illegal gathering of more than 10 people in one location.

PA: Why workers’ compensation might not provide relief for Pennsylvanians

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania officials say those who contract the coronavirus on the job might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. But legal and public health experts say that help may be very hard to obtain.

MO: Missouri changes tax deadline, child care, Medicaid and driver’s license rules

kansascity.com

GOP Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered residents to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. He also announced extended deadlines for paying state income taxes, registering license plates and renewing child care provider applications. And Missouri will not terminate individual Medicaid coverage throughout the federal emergency.

MD: Maryland to end temporary extra pay for state employees working during outbreak

baltimoresun.com

Maryland has been paying some essential and mission-critical employees double for hourly work since March 12. But state officials say the additional pay is no longer necessary as they believe agencies have implemented the proper procedures to protect employees from COVID-19 as well as control the spread of the disease inside state facilities.

GA: More coronavirus cases reported in Georgia Senate

ajc.com

A second Georgia state senator has tested positive for the disease caused by coronavirus and several other legislators and staffers said they had symptoms of the illness, days after the state’s entire legislative branch was urged to self-quarantine.

AK: Emergency needs have Alaska lawmakers wondering about dividend payouts

alaskapublic.org

The Alaska debate over dividends is being pulled in two directions: On one hand, there’s less money available for dividends than there has been in a long time. On the other, there’s a potential benefit to putting cash quickly into the pockets of Alaskans, many of whom are losing their jobs.

DE: Prominent Delaware distillery now manufacturing hand sanitizer

delawareonline.com

Dogfish Head's distillery in Delaware has been producing its own hand sanitizer since last week using an FDA-approved proprietary blend of its house-distilled grain neutral spirit, hydrogen peroxide and reverse-osmosis purified water.

WI: Federal judge reinstates online voter registration in Wisconsin

jsonline.com

A federal judge reinstated Wisconsin's online voter registration system to help people find ways to participate in the April 7 presidential election amid the coronavirus pandemic. Wisconsin had stopped allowing people to use the state's online voter registration system in accordance with a state law that limits online registration just ahead of an election.

PA: Pennsylvania governor, lawmakers in talks to postpone primary to June 2

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and key members of the state legislature are preparing a proposal to postpone the April 28 primary election until June 2, according to the Inquirer.

MN: What internet providers are doing to keep Minnesotans online

minnpost.com

Internet providers in Minnesota have signed on to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which says that the companies won’t terminate internet service to residential or small business customers for reasons connected to the coronavirus crisis.

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